The Years of the Forest



Book: The Years of the Forest

Author: Helen Hoover

Illustrator: Adrian Hoover

Publisher: University Of Minnesota Press, republished in 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0394475387 (Hardcover)

ISBN-10: 0394475380 (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 978-0816631308 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 0816631301 (Paperback)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Hoover, Helen.  The Years of the Forest (published in 1973 by Borzoi Books, an imprint of Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York City, NY).  In 1954, Helen Hoover, who was born in 1910 at Greenfield, OH, studied chemistry at Ohio University, and became a research metallurgist for the International Harvester, and her husband Adrian (Ade), a commercial artist, left their hustle-bustle life in Chicago, IL, and bought a remote cabin in the far-northern Minnesota woods.  The events of their first year and a half, ending with a fire in Ade’s workshop, were chronicled in her book A Place in the Woods, and story of their relationship to the deer that came to their cabin is told in The Gift of the DeerThe Years of the Forest is a sort of summary of the sixteen years that followed, from 1956 to 1967, when the increasing encroachment of civilization led them to “take a vacation” in search of another wilderness home, with an epilogue about their return in 1971, with the outline taken from a casual, random list of “Things to Do” jotted down by Ade, including “Install wiring, Running water, Inside toilet” and “Get another car” after their old one had broken down.  It has been republished as part of the Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Series.

For anyone who has a secret longing to leave the problems of society and live an eremitic life a la Thoreau’s Walden, this book, subtitled “A down-to-earth (and delightful) book about wilderness living and nature adventure by the author of The Gift of the Deer and A Place in the Woods,” will be fascinating.  A few references to man as more highly evolved and how the animals are related to us occur, but there are several statements about the wonders of creation and some citations of Scripture.  Also, a little bit of environmentalism is found, but it is mostly the old-fashioned conservation variety rather than the modern “kill all the people to save the animals” whacko kind.  Ade is said to swear on a number of occasions, but no actual swear words are used except that the exclamation “Great God” is uttered once and the “d” word twice.  The period covered in this book also records the writing of another book by Helen, The Long-Shadowed Forest.  In addition, she wrote some books for young readers, such as Animals at My Doorstep, Animals Near and Far, and Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman.

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